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The Sydney Morning Herald 

The Sydney Morning Herald
Special Report: Do Not Disturb

Space Mission: The Rise of the Apartment Hotel

Weekend Edition: December 5-6, 2009


Expansive...an apartment bedroom at AKA Central Park




When Size Matters

Helen Anderson finds room to move in Manhattan.


The Big Apple has some very, very small hotel rooms. Space is surely the ultimate luxury in Manhattan and, like NASA in a recession, finding that space on a budget is my mission.


I search online for a serviced apartment for a week-long stay. There are places that require minimum month-long bookings and there are single apartments for rent with no front-of-house support and complicated booking procedures – and then I find AKA, a “luxury extended stay” company with flexible minimum bookings and four addresses in New York City.


In Midtown, one block from Central Park ablaze with autumn colour and surrounded by Fifth Avenue shopping, I find space – an astonishing expanse of it – in a well-furnished one-bedroom apartment with a big marble bathroom, walk-in wardrobe and separate living room with sofas, a table for four and a proper kitchen. It has smaller studios, apartments with one, two and connecting third bedrooms and two 17th-floor penthouses with wraparound balconies and outdoor fireplaces.


More than an apartment block, AKA is also a four-star hotel, with switched-on front-desk staff, helpful doormen and staff who like dealing with families. And more: free local phone calls and Wi-Fi in all rooms, a small business centre if you’re travelling without your laptop, a boardroom, good coffee and tea at all hours, a gym, well-priced meals delivered by nearby caterers and the rare luxury of DIY communal laundry.


If you’re staying a while and fancy a new fitness regime, or a photography course or classical guitar lessons, the hotel will link like minds. “Our guests can feel like they’re part of the life of Manhattan, not just passing through,” says the hotel’s general manager, Jeffrey Poirot.


Any service I can think of to comfort business travelers, singles, couples or families is provided or on the way: a ground-floor café opens this week and a guests’ lounge with fireplaces, rugs and sofas opens later this month.


And the price? At $US295 ($325) a night in a one-bedroom suite for a seven-night stay, there’s a chance to do more than window-shop on Fifth Avenue.


AKA Central Park is at 42 West 58th Street, New York City.  hotelaka.com/centralpark



The Front Entrance at AKA Central Park, New York



Much More Than a Room

Louise Schwartzkoff reports.  For a month, a week or just a weekend, hotel guests are looking for all the comforts of home.


With the extra space and home comforts, apartment hotels offer the chance to live like a local. In the US, the long-stay chain, AKA, has luxury apartment blocks in New York, Arlington, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. The studios, apartments and penthouse suites attract holiday makers, business travelers on international assignments, affluent urbanites renovating their homes and A-list actors shooting films.


“People love this idea of feeling as though they are in residence,” says company president M.J. Paschall. “There’s a sense of community and belonging because it’s a leaner model, with only six to 12 arrivals each day.”


“The people here for leisure travel will come back from their sightseeing and museum tours and tell us about their day. For long-term stays, it has a very cool, neighborly feel.”


In many cases, the longer you stay, the better the deals become. Stay in AKA’s executive suite in Times Square for a month and the nightly rate plummets to $US284 ($310), far less than the $US457 for a single night.  hotelaka.com/timessquare


AKA: Specializing in stays of a week or more, AKA's luxury furnished apartments offer such hotel services as free wireless internet, local telephone calls, housekeeping, and concierge.  AKA properties are in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Virginaia; soon, Los Angeles and London.  See www.hotelaka.com.

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